Spear Head Spade review Digging & Cultivating Tools

Spear Head Spade: Product Review


A Digging Tool With a Precision-First Attitude

Golden Shovel Award Winners 2014Though a lifelong gardener, I never became a tool geek. I have put thousands of work hours on my traditional digging shovel, for instance, and a simple iron rake. I always thought them good enough.

But I write a landscape and ecology column. Last year, I went in search of locally made garden products for a holiday gift story and unearthed something that caught my eye: the Spear Head Spade. I welcomed the opportunity to review it for Gardening Products Review and have used the 41” D-grip model with a fiberglass handle and shaft for three months.

About the Spear Head Spade

Spear Head Spade vs shovel vs spade

The Spear Head Spade combines the characteristics of several digging tools and is a wonderful for its greater precision and depth.

Though called a spade, this tool only partially resembles one. Spades usually have a long, narrow scoop and a flat or slightly rounded tip (for more details, see our article on the differences between a shovel and a spade). The Spear Head has a sharply pointed tip, outward-curved, 35-degree beveled edges, and exaggerated “shoulders” (foot rest). The scoop is made of high carbon manganese steel that is 33% thicker and 25% harder than normal shovels. It is powder coated with epoxy resin.

In my opinion, it combines some of the best characteristics of a spade with a garden axe or knife. Instead of calling it a shovel, I think it is better described as a precision digging tool.

In addition to precision, it offers a surprising amount of leverage given its size and weight. The model I used weighs only about four pounds but feels very sturdy, perhaps because the handle is made of fiberglass, rather than wood. The size and shape of the 41-inch model proved very comfortable for me (I’m 5’8”). They offer a 30-inch mini D-handle model and a 59-inch long-handle model as well. I am not afraid to subject it to some very heavy lifting.

Related Article >> How to Sharpen a Spade

Makes Quick Work of Many Digging Tasks

Spear Head Spade makes clean cuts

Spear Head makes clean cuts even in rocky borders. Here, I am lifting long-established irises.

I have found it very valuable for the many “fine gardening” tasks that occupy the gardener’s agenda. Result: I won’t leave the shed without it.

Spear Head Spade makes a precise cut

The Spear Head Spade makes a very precise cut, allowing me to drop landscape plugs into the edge of an established meadow.

Here are some tasks made easier with the Spear Head Spade:

  1. Dividing daylilies and iris. This traditionally irksome task was simplified by 50%, I felt, because the Spear Head cuts through difficult root mats so efficiently.
  2. Bulb planting. Spear Head combines the best of a traditional bulb planter with the power of a good shovel. I used it to put daffodils in an established grassy field.
  3. Lifting well established shrubs for transplant. Again, the sharp edges cut root mats quickly and the long “nose” of the scoop provides an extra few inches of depth with each dig. The result is faster, easier lifting.
  4. Planting landscape plugs. I like to work with landscape plugs, those deep-rooted seedlings that come in trays of 50 or more. Spear Head is not only excellent for cutting a small, precise slice where I want to place a plug but its edges are so well honed that I was able to make accurate cuts in the base of the root-bound plugs before planting. See the illustration.
  5. Turning a root-infested compost pile. If you’ve ever let a compost pile sit too long, you know the problem of root nets. Again, Spear Head made quick work of freeing the material from roots.
Spear-head-spade-4

Though the size of a shovel, the light weight and beveled edge of Spear Head Spade allowed me to use it to cut roots on pot-bound landscape plugs.

All of these superior functions make it a great addition to the gardener’s “tool kit” because it addresses many tasks that require both strength and precision. It does not, however, replace the traditional digging shovel. It holds much less soil, so I would never use it to move a dirt pile, for instance, or a gravel, stone dust, or mulch pile for that matter. There are other tools better adapted for that job.

Aside from being a great tool, though, the Spear Head has a great story.

The Invention and the Inventor

Easy to dig with Spear Head Spade

Long-established daylilies lifted out of the soil in one stroke with the Spear Head Spade.

Spear Head Spade was invented by Daniel Mathieu of Windsor, CT, a fellow who his son, Julien, describes an “an inventor by nature all his life.” When in his 80s, with replacement hips and knees, he found the garden a challenge so he did what any good inventor would do: He created a tool to solve the problem.

According to Julien Mathieu, his father’s shovel “proved so popular with everyone who tried it, particularly women, we decided to bring it to market.” The younger Mathieu applied for a patent and the company is now almost five years old and thousands of Spear Head Spades have been delivered.

Made in the USA

Made in USAAll Spear Head Spades are made in the USA and are distributed in retail locations around the country.

Three Models to Choose From

The two D-handle sizes of the Spear Head Spade - one has a 41-inch shaft and the other has a 30-inch one

The two D-handle sizes of the Spear Head Spade – one has a 41-inch shaft and the other has a 30-inch one

All three models have the unique Spear Head shape to the scoop but the handle length and style varies. The Spear Head Spade is available in two D-handle sizes: a 41-inch handle and a 30-inch mini version. It is also available with a 59-inch straight handle. Although I found the cushioned D-handle comfortable to use, some gardeners prefer working with a longer, straight-handled shovel or spade.

Where to Buy

The Spear Head website offers a store locator, but they also sell direct through their online store. The 41-inch D-handle model I used retails for $46. The long-handled model retails for $48. The new 30-inch mini D-handle model retails for $35. Shipping is $8 – $15 depending on destination. Connecticut addresses pay sales tax if purchased online.

The spade is also available on Amazon for around $49 (with free shipping with a Prime membership).

Recommendation

5 Shovels Rating from Gardening Products ReviewAs a precision digging tool for fine gardening tasks, I give it a perfect 5-shovel rating. I would add one word of caution, however, in an otherwise glowing review. Because Spear Head Spade sinks deep very quickly, particularly in soft soil, be cautious of buried lines such as those in dog-containment systems. As the company’s web site points out, the fiberglass handle is non-conductive but we should always be extra careful when working around electricity.

Spear Head Spade is a great addition to the tool shed—but not a replacement for other shovels. What it does, it does much, much better than less specialized digging tools.

And now over to you – Have you tried a shovel/spade like this? How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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GPR Recommendation

Ease of Use
Quality
Performance
Summary

A lightweight but strong precision digging tool

Overall Score 5

Available on Amazon

Buy It
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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank the manufacturer/distributor for giving us a free sample to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.

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5 Comments on Spear Head Spade: Product Review

    • Hi, Gail. I have not used the 30″ spade, but having used the 41″, I believe you would find it to have more “shovel power” than the smaller version. I liked the leverage I got from the 41″ model, especially given its light weight. I am 5’8″.

      For my part, I don’t do much formal gardening (as in: meticulously tended, carefully planned) — but that style of gardening is probably where the 30″ model is best suited. You might want to consider the types of tasks you’re doing as well as the handle length. Just a thought.

      Best wishes, Kathy

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